The Role ofFathers Among Refugee and Disadvantaged Families in Low And Middle-Income Countries
The role of fathers among refugee and disadvantaged families in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) remains poorly understood. This study has sought to examine the associations between mothers’ perceptions of their husband’s involvement (hereafter referred to as paternal involvement), and her perceptions of her own parenting, distress, and well-being, as well as observed mother-child interactions in families living in disadvantaged communities and humanitarian settings. We analyzed baseline data from 104 mother-child dyads who participated in a randomized controlled trial aimed at evaluating the impact of the Mother-Child Education Program in Beirut, Lebanon. Mothers self-reported their distress, well-being, parenting (i.e., harsh discipline and parenting stress), and paternal involvement at home and in the community. Mother-child pairs were videotaped while completing a puzzle together and dyadic interactions were coded. Correlation analysis showed that higher perceptions of paternal involvement were associated with more positive affect displayed by the child, more positive regard for the child, and better mother-child synchrony during the dyadic interactions. Path analysis showed that paternal involvement was significantly associated with maternal well-being and distress. In turn, higher levels of maternal distress, were associated with higher levels of harsh discipline and more perceived parenting stress. The findings illustrate that paternal involvement may impact markers of maternal mental health and positive mother-child interactions among families living in disadvantaged communities or humanitarian settings. Paternal involvement should be considered when designing and implementing parenting programs in LMICs.